For the longest time, cricket was considered to be a gentleman’s game and football was a men’s sport. But then came players like Mithali Raj and Megan Rapinoe who made the world rethink their notions on sports and women because they were breaking barriers!
Another such woman who is breaking barriers is Hadiya Hakeem, an 18-year-old student in Kozhikode, Kerala, who is making every football fans’ jaws drop with her killer freestyle moves!
According to TNIE, Hadiya Hakeem and her family used to stay in Qatar. It was there that she learnt how to play football. When she was in class 10, her family shifted to Kerala. She dreamt of becoming a professional footballer but she found that there were no opportunities for girls to play football in Kozhikode.
“Our school too does not have a football team for girls. But I never stopped my bonding with the ball as I practised freestyle indoors,” she said.
She mostly learnt her moves from watching videos online.
Last year, Hadiya was asked to display her freestyling skills during their school’s annual soccer tournament. To watch a girl take her position in the middle of the field, with two all-boys teams standing on both sides, and juggle the ball effortlessly with her feet without allowing the ball to touch the ground left everyone stunned, reports TOI.
“She has given goosebumps to all of us. Hadiya is a big motivation for not only students but also teachers,” said Saleem N K, Hadiya’s teacher.
Now, Hadiya has a good number of followers on social media and gets invited to various events to showcase her skills.
Hadiya Hakeem’s popularity is important for various reasons. Firstly, it highlights how even girls can be die-hard soccer fans and can ace freestyling – a field that is male-dominated. Secondly, her story is a witness to the blaring gender disparity when it comes to sports opportunities for girls. And finally, she is not just an inspiration for girls who think soccer isn’t for them but her story is a wakeup call for schools, colleges, and sports authorities to create more opportunity for female athletes across the country, and not just in a few cities.
Till then, we can bless our eyes by watching her freestyle!